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Is Anyone Using Sales Managers to Manage Their BDC?

I am preparing a presentation to our General Managers about our BDC operations and it got me thinking about how BDC's have changed in recent years.  When I started in the car business in 1998, the BDC generally consisted of a couple of reps who were usually the poorest performing salespeople who had to earn their way back on the floor and a BDC Manager who was generally the most tech savvy person in the store a.k.a. the "Computer Guy or Gal." 


When I look at the current makeup of BDC's, I see BDC reps who are excellent appointment setters, have strong phone and email skills but what I don't see are people who have ever sold a car. Most have never been on a test drive, spent an afternoon with a customer only to hear "I'll think about it" and never desked a deal or at least understand how deals are structured.  This system made sense when the Internet Department accounted for 10-15% of the dealership's business but in store's like ours, the Internet Department accounts for 40% of our business and the BDC reps are interacting with thousands of new customers every month.


In my opinion, in store BDC's need to be managed by experienced sales managers who know how to desk deals, handle objections, understand buying signals and in general, add car sales experience to the BDC process.  I don't think we can afford to have this many potential deals being handled by reps who have no practical car sales experience.  The reps are still vital to the process but the person overseeing them can't simply be the best BDC rep who got promoted to BDC Manager. More and more of the Road to the Sale is taking place online and we need to get our managers to interact with these customers earlier in the process.  One of the most common phrases I hear is "Just get 'em in and we'll sell them."  The problem with that thinking is that  the deals are taking place online and over the phone so we need to realize where our customers are making their buying decisions. 


Do you have your sales managers reviewing your Internet leads?  I would like to get feedback from anyone who is having success with this format.

Views: 978

Tags: BDC, Business Development Center, Car Dealer, Management, Sales, Sales Management, operations

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Comment by Stan Sher on May 9, 2012 at 3:02pm

It all depends.  Is your BDC Manager someone that you can hire and keep at $40k a year or is it a 6 figure manager?  My opinion is that a BDC manager needs be the same caliber as a sales manager just with more skills.  The BDC Manager needs to understand all aspects of marketing, lead generation, management, understanding of car deals work, be a strong closer, be a monster on the phone, and be a great manager of people.  I can honestly that if I had not sold cars or desked deals in the past I would not have been as effective as I have been when I was running BDC departments.  However, a seasoned BDC rep that has been great and is ready to move up can be qualified with the right training and experience.  They are not worth 6 figures but they are good at $50-75k.  But at that level you are getting what you pay for.  They know what they know and they can never escalate situations to a higher level without having to run back and forth to the desk.  A real BDC Manager needs to be a sales manager with 10X more skills and knowledge.

Comment by DON GRAFF on May 7, 2012 at 6:00pm

Mike and Bill, I feel the way you do about a seasoned manager especially in a large department of 10 or more people. In fact one of our clients has a director, the marketing manager and a sales manager responsible for the BDC performance and  they rock about $500k a month in gross.   I remember seeing the internet leads come over the fax 10 years ago and no one knew who took the lead or if it went into the trash.

Give me an accountable manager with closing and phone skills and you will have a money making machine. As consultants my team knows we have to show ROI every week.You should find out the costs of what you need to do not what you want to do because you will have the passion to sell the idea and build a pro forma that the dealer can believe. Good Luck

Comment by Craig Polito on May 7, 2012 at 2:42pm

call me put me on a conference call and I help your cause (no charge) 727 215 4908

Comment by Mike Warwick on May 7, 2012 at 1:15pm

I appreciate everyone's feedback.  It seems so obvious that there needs to be direct sales management involvement in the BDC process.  Having a sales manager at the desk answering the occassional BDC reps questions isn't going to be effective in a market this competitive.  The challenge is going to be to convince the stores that this needs to happen immediately. 

Comment by Stephen Stearns on May 7, 2012 at 12:54pm

I'm a sales manager.  I have an appointment setter that I hired.  We work the Internet leads from start to finish. We are now starting to call the floor ups, previous customers, and service customers. Being the sales manager helps because my customers get a consistent experience from start to finish.  I know because I can control it the whole way.  This seems to work the best at our store. 

Comment by William Finsilver on May 7, 2012 at 12:45pm

A BDC run by someone other than a seasoned sales/desk manager is like fielding a double A team at the World Series, you can play but you wont win. But whether you have a BDC or a direct sales business model for internet leads, your success will be determined by the skill and talent of the sales manager and the managers engagement in the lead process. Does your BDC/Internet Sales Manager have as much control and accoutability of the internet lead as the floor manager does on floor traffic? If not, you arent even close to maximizing your opportunities. Does your BDC/ISM control and get a TO like the floor manager does? Does the ISM speak to every lead contacted by phone that doesnt convert to an appointment before the lead hangs up? Your sales department must have the same visibility, contact and control of an internet lead as someone standing on the showroom floor.

Comment by Gary Jon Prough on May 7, 2012 at 12:08pm

I spent almost ten years on the desk, the took a BDC manager spot in a multi-point dealer group. It allowed me to see what everybody was missing. It's easy to count the ones you sold. Count the ones slipping through the cracks and stop them. To me the BDC and the person that runs it makes it and appointment setting machine. CONFIRMED appointments please... Each person on shift sets one and day everyday, then two, then... byproduct?? Selling cars gets in the way of setting appointment's. Or what I like to call, the best problem to ever have!!  

Comment by Jim Canto on May 7, 2012 at 9:01am

Mike- "ice cream headache" .. haha.. love it. It is truly daunting. And, thank you, our managers do the best job they can. However, there are many deals which slip through the cracks. That's not to say they are not working hard stopping that bleeding... well... not any harder than "traditional" sales managers are working towards making certain phone-ups and walk-ins are being handled appropriately. 

If it would take a complete overhaul.. then it's time for an overhaul. But, again, that's just my opinion. Then again, speaking competitively, maybe other dealers should just continue on as they are. ;-)

Comment by Don Queen on May 7, 2012 at 8:54am

BDC's are very losely defined. Strictly from a business development approach (as opposed to customer service), implementing a large scale BDC makes no fiscal sense for any dealership. We work with over 400+ dealerships nationwide and our business has more than quadrupled over the past 2 years, primarly because outsourcing offers the best mix of value (cost savings) and results (sales revenue). The laws of dimishing return are especially difficult to overcome when a dealership tries to add head count to a business model that is much different from that in which they have the skill to run. Lets be honest, a high volume BDC is a CALL CENTER, which requires a special skill set (not to mention the technology and processes to bring them all together). How many managers have ever run a call center? And to add the people, technology and overhead to run it come into play, the economies of scale are simply not in their favor. For the cost of 3 employees, we offer 8-10 highly trained agents, skilled management and the technology/process to bring it all together. That can't be matched by a in-house, business development focused BDC.
Comment by Mike Warwick on May 7, 2012 at 8:45am

Jim - I agree with a lot of what you say.  It sounds like you have a solid system in place with well trained sales managers who are guiding the process and making sure that deals don't slip through the cracks. I try to envision our sales managers doing the same things and I get an ice cream headache. You put a customer in front of them and they know exactly what to do. You put the same customer on the phone or conversing by email and everything seems to change. It would take a complete overhaul of the way most dealerships do business to pull off what your store has done. 

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